PTL and FTL: How to Choose the Right Shipping for your Business

Author: Rakshitha Rai

Author: Rakshitha Rai


Published date: May 25, 2023

Published date: May 25, 2023

Table of Contents


If you are in the logistics sector you would have heard of the terms PTL and FTL. Partial Truckload (PTL) and Full Truckload (FTL) shipping are effective shipping options in the transportation industry as they offer different solutions for varying shipment sizes and transportation needs.

Trucking industry data from the past several decades indicates the industry has enjoyed perennial growth that will only increase in the post-pandemic world. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global trucking market was valued at USD 4.2 trillion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.7% from 2021 to 2028.

While both PTL and FTL have their own challenges and benefits, it is crucial to understand the difference between them. PTL helps reduce costs, and FTL, on the other hand, offers greater control and security over the shipment. So, how do you choose between the two?

Whether you need to transport a small package or need an entire truck space, we will help you understand everything you need to know about PTL and FTL. Fasten your seatbelt, sit back, and let us hit the open road of shipping logistics.

Difference between PTL and FTL

A partial truckload (PTL) is a freight transportation method that occupies a small space in a single truck and is transported along with other shipments from different customers. There is no transfer of goods from one vehicle to another, from the origin to the destination. Businesses with shipments that are not large enough to require an entire truck use PTL.

A full truckload (FTL) is a shipping method in which the whole truck is dedicated to a single shipment/carrier, starting from the origin to the destination. In FTL, the shipment may only fill part of the truck, but the entire truck space is dedicated to one shipper. Businesses choose this option if they have large shipments or when transporting specialised goods that require a dedicated truck.

Let us explore the differences and challenges in PTL and FTL movements and how to navigate them effectively.

  1. Price

The price of PTL and FTL shipments is determined based on the shipment’s actual weight, volumetric weight, and distance. PTL shipments range between 680- 4500 Kilograms occupy between 8-20 linear feet of a trailer, while FTL shipments are typically used for larger shipments that weigh more than 4500 Kilograms or occupy more than 20 linear feet of a trailer.

In cases where volumetric weight is more, PTL shipments are charged based on the space used in the truck, while FTL shipments are charged based on the distance travelled or the total weight of the shipment. PTL shipments are generally less expensive than FTL shipments because the cost of transportation is shared with other shipments.

2. Efficiency

PTL is less efficient than FTL in terms of transportation time or transit time due to the need to consolidate multiple shipments from different shippers leading to multiple stops and delays.

FTL is more efficient than PTL in handling and security, as the entire truck is reserved for a single shipment. Also, the shipment is less likely to be damaged or lost during transportation, as there is no need to handle or reposition other shipments during the trip.

Challenges in PTL & FTL

1.Limited Tracking

In PTL shipments, multiple packages are transported in the same truck, making tracking individual items within the PTL container difficult. Since a single carrier cannot manage them, tracking updates are less frequent or detailed than in an FTL shipment. It creates a challenge for shippers who need visibility into their goods’ exact location or status.

On the other hand, FTL shipments involve a single shipper and a single carrier, making tracking updates more straightforward. However, FTL shipments often travel long distances and can sometimes affect tracking information’s accuracy. In addition, they also involve the use of specialised equipment, like refrigerated trailers, which can complicate tracking of data points like temperature.

Possible solutions:

To address these challenges, carriers and shippers can use GPS tracking to improve shipment visibility and provide timely and accurate updates.  For PTL, GPS tracking can be done using portable or one-time-use GPS  devices. For FTL this can be done using portable, fixed and one-time-use GPS devices as well as Smart Locks.

2. Risk of damage & theft

PTL shipments are usually loaded and unloaded multiple times during the end-to-end freight journey, which increases the risk of damage and theft. Since PTL shipments are smaller than FTL shipments, they are more susceptible to damage from bulkier shipments or rough shipment handling during loading and unloading.

In FTL shipments, goods are transported on a dedicated truck, which helps reduce the risk of damage and theft to a great extent. However, they are not completely free from damage. FTL shipments are larger and heavier. They can require specialised handling equipment or need to be loaded and unloaded with cranes or other heavy machinery, which can sometimes damage the shipments.

Possible solutions:

To mitigate the risk of damage in both PTL and FTL shipments, shippers and carriers can take steps such as properly packing and securing goods, using protective packaging materials, installing Smart Locks on the trucks, and ensuring that goods are loaded and unloaded carefully. Carriers can use specialised equipment, such as air-ride suspension systems or temperature-controlled trailers, to help protect goods during transport. Additionally, shippers can purchase cargo insurance to provide additional protection against loss or damage.

3. Pricing

In PTL shipments, pricing depends on each shipment’s weight and volume. Since PTL shipments are smaller than FTL shipments, carriers charge a premium rate for PTL transportation due to the added complexity of managing multiple shipments. The pricing for PTL shipments is always affected by factors such as the origin and destination of the goods and the level of service required.

FTL pricing primarily depends on source-to-destination distance, truck type and shipment load (weight and type). Carriers also charge a flat rate for FTL transportation for contract vehicles or use a per-kilometer or per-kilogram pricing model. Pricing for FTL shipments is affected by factors such as the type of goods being transported (e.g., hazardous materials) and the choice of service required (e.g., temperature-controlled).

Possible Solutions:

To manage pricing challenges in PTL and FTL shipments, carriers and shippers can negotiate rates based on volume, consolidate shipments to reduce costs or use transportation management systems (TMS) to optimise shipping routes and reduce transportation expenses.

4. Documentation

Documentation is a critical aspect of shipping, and PTL and FTL shipments pose challenges when managing and organising the necessary paperwork.

In PTL shipments, documentation is sometimes complicated because of incorrect weight or quantity information which leads to overbooking or underutilization of space resulting in additional charges. There are also cases where the shipping labels are missing which further complicates the documentation process.

In FTL shipments, documentation must comply with regulations related to hazardous materials, customs, and e-way bills. FTL also requires additional documentation, such as certificates of origin, to document the shipment correctly.

Possible solutions:

To address these challenges, carriers and shippers can be tech-enabled and use transportation management systems (TMS) to manage and organise documentation.

5. Transit time

Transit time is an essential factor while consdering for PTL and FTL shipments, as transit delays significantly impact the delivery of goods.

In PTL shipments, transit time is affected by several factors, including the weight of the shipment and the complexity of the shipping route. Since PTL shipments involve multiple shipments being transported together, the transit time can be longer than for FTL shipments.

In FTL shipments, transit time is affected by factors like distance travelled, the type of goods being transported, and the complexity of the shipping route. FTL shipments require more planning and coordination than PTL shipments, as the carrier must ensure that the truck is loaded correctly and that the route is optimised to minimise transit time.

Possible solutions:

To address transit time challenges in PTL and FTL shipments, carriers and shippers can use strategies such as optimising shipping routes, consolidating shipments to reduce transit time, or using transportation management systems (TMS) to track shipments in real-time and provide proactive updates to customers.

How to calculate shipping rates?

Partial Truckload (PTL) Formula:

Total Cost = (Weight * Rate/Kg) + FSC + AWB Charge + Special charges


  • FSC: Fuel Surcharge

  • AWB Charge: Charge for the preparation and processing of the Air waybill

  • Special charges: These depend on the carrier, origin or destination, and specific shipment requirements (storage and handling).

Full Truckload (FTL) Formula:

Total Cost = Base Rate + (Cost/Km-Ton rate x Distance)


  • Base Rate: The flat rate charged for the shipment

  • Cost/Km-Ton Rate: The rate charged per kilometre for per ton the shipment travels

  • Distance: The total distance the shipment is travelling

It’s important to note that these formulas are just general guidelines and the rates are market-driven based on supply and demand. The actual rates may vary depending on carriers, distance, geography, weight, volume, and additional services required. It’s always best to check with your specific carrier for their shipping rates.

When to choose PTL and FTL?

Here are some insights for shippers and carriers in choosing between PTL and FTL:

For Shippers:

  1. Size and Type of Shipment: PTL is a better option for smaller shipments, as it can offer cost savings and greater flexibility in scheduling pickups and deliveries. FTL is better suited for larger shipments that require the entire truck space or specialised shipments that require better security and customizations.

  2. Level of Service: Depending on the nature of the goods being shipped, shippers require additional services such as temperature control, specialised handling, or expedited delivery. FTL shipments are better suited for these requirements.

For Carriers:

  1. Fleet Capacity and Availability: Carriers should consider their fleet capacity and availability when deciding between PTL and FTL. PTL requires frequent pickups and deliveries, while FTL is often less flexible when changing the route or delivery schedule once the shipment has been picked.

  2. Operational Costs: Carriers should check out the operational costs, including fuel, labour, and maintenance, when deciding between PTL and FTL. PTL offers better efficiency and cost savings for carriers with smaller fleets, while FTL is more cost-effective for carriers with larger fleets.

  3. Revenue Opportunities: Carriers should also consider the revenue opportunities of both PTL and FTL. PTL shipments offer more frequent pickups and deliveries, while FTL shipments provide higher revenue per shipment.

How Intugine Supercharges PTL and FTL Shipments

Intugine has two unique products IntuParcel and IntuTrack, catering to PTL and FTl, respectively.

PTL shipments

We offer milestone-based visibility updates and transporter recommendations to inform you through our comprehensive logistics solution – IntuParcel. Our Freight Estimator allows for easy and accurate comparison of freight costs based on specific business contracts. With Parcel Visibility (using AWB number) businesses can track shipments in real-time, whether they are tech-enabled or not.  Further, e-POD Verification system provides instant validation of proof of delivery, and the Payment Reconciliation feature ensures that payments align with the business rules.

IntuParcel also integrates with major ERP systems like SAP/Oracle for easy implementation and with 600+ couriers for easy accessibility.

FTL Shipments

We have IntuTrack– a real-time transportation visibility platform that utilises device and non-device-based tracking to give detailed updates on shipment location, delivery ETA, and unexpected delays/halts.

To provide real-time updates, we use devices like GSM trackers and GPS trackers, and for non-device-based tracking, we use sim-based tracking, GPS integrations and FASTag. The frequency of real-time tracking varies from every 10 seconds to 15 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the mode of tracking which in turn is determined by client operations and requirements.

Intutrack has POD Verification, analytics and Payment Reconciliation features. We also have a control tower module for managing exceptions in logistics operations, such as unplanned halts, changes in destination and delayed deliveries.

Furthermore, using Intugine’s partnership with ULIP– Unified Logistics Integrated Platform, you can leverage data from the logistics infrastructure like FAStag, FOIS, Vahan & Sarathi from around the country and view it in a single unified platform to improve your logistics performance.

So, are you ready to supercharge your logistics operations? Connect with us today.

Liked what you read? Share with a friend
Liked what you read? Share with a friend
Get a Demo

Search other articles

See What's Trending

Intugine Technologies Private Limited

Attic Space Karna, 4th floor
No 9, Sarjapur - Marathahalli Rd, 1st Block, Koramangala,
Bengaluru, Karnataka 560034

Copyright @2023, All rights reserved.

Registered Address: Intugine Technologies Private Limited, Attic Space Karna, 4th floor, No 9, Sarjapur - Marathahalli Rd, 1st Block Koramangala, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560034

CIN: U74999KA2013PTC168682

Intugine Technologies Private Limited

Attic Space Karna, 4th floor
No 9, Sarjapur - Marathahalli Rd, 1st Block, Koramangala, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560034

Copyright @2023, All rights reserved.

Registered Address: Intugine Technologies Private Limited, Attic Space Karna, 4th floor, No 9, Sarjapur - Marathahalli Rd, 1st Block Koramangala, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560034

CIN: U74999KA2013PTC168682

Search articles